Help me prepare a simple-ish Mexican dish for my dude
August 5, 2020 2:08 PM   Subscribe

I have basic cooking skill and would love recommendations for something delish I can make!

My boyfriend grew up in San Antonio, Texas. His mom is from Guatemala and his dad is from Mexico. He’s generally the cook around here, and I’d love to surprise him with a Mexican, Guatemalan, or even Tex-Mex dish that’s delish. He’s prepared pozole for us, millions of tacos, beans and rice forever, etc. I’ve had Guatemalan tamales made by his mom, and menudo (not my thing, but I’ve loved everything else). I’m a deeeecent cook, but not hyper experienced in the kitchen.

Could you recommend a semi easy dish to prepare? It could be anything; main dish, something sweet, even a beverage. I have access to every type of grocery store, if the recipe calls for a specific ingredient. Feel free to link to recipes, or write them here. All suggestions very appreciated!

No dietary restrictions for this ask. Thank you!
posted by sucre to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
guacamole is pretty easy.

soft tacos too: shredded meat, cilantro, onions, oxaca cheese, corn tortillas.

pico de gallo if you have a food processor

tex-mex nachos: tortilla chips, pickled jalapenos, nacho cheese, tomatoes, onions.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:15 PM on August 5, 2020

Best answer: Make a person chilaquiles for breakfast and you'll have a friend for life.

This recipe looks all right, but I've only had it made for me and never made it myself, so I defer to anyone downstream coming in with experience.

But make your boyfriend chilaquiles.
posted by phunniemee at 2:16 PM on August 5, 2020 [7 favorites]

Tamales are moderately easy to make. You'll need a steamer setup. Most of the work is just filling the cornshucks if you make a big batch.

I've gotten great "this is like Mom used to make" compliments on them, without putting in a ton of effort.

They're fairly cheap, too: a large bag of masa flour will make about 20 gazillion of them.
posted by gimonca at 2:32 PM on August 5, 2020

Best answer: Ooooh, you need fideo (or as my family calls it, either "vermicelli" or just "worms."

This is a pretty good recipe and has the crucial step -- you toast the pasta in oil till it is browned all over but not burned. That's when I add the cumin, salt, pepper, garlic (I use fresh and not powder) and stir. Then I stir in the diced onions and can of diced tomatoes and if I'm adding chicken, I'll add some already-cooked and chopped chicken thighs. My mom adds the chicken in whole parts and she boils hers first, but I think chopping and stir-frying gives better flavor. Add enough broth to cover all the ingredients, then put the lid on and cook on medium low about 20 mins, until the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is done.

If you can't find fideo (it will look like this and be unbelievably cheap) you can use broken-up spaghetti in a pinch, but it's not exactly the same.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:54 PM on August 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

If you go with fideo and have any questions, hit me up, I learned it from my folks and I cook it a lot. My family is from San Antonio too!
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:55 PM on August 5, 2020

I made caramelized carnitas and my family loved it. Really simple. I left out the lard and used ~2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
posted by Triumphant Muzak at 3:00 PM on August 5, 2020

I don't have a specific recipe to recommend, but I have loved most of the recipes here: Homesick Texan
The site covers various forms of Tex-Mex from all over the state of Texas so you might find something here. I made the sour cream enchiladas the other night with slight modifications for what I had on hand and they were great.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 3:14 PM on August 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

After reading this comment, I've used this recipe for a tasty and easy to make Tex-Mex flour tortillas. (also from Homesick Texan).
posted by ShooBoo at 3:20 PM on August 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: By far the easiest protein to put in anything Mexican is good chorizo. I made these tacos last night and was bowled when I realized that I didn't put any spices in, and I usually spice stuff way more heavily than most recipes call for. Just salt, and they were great. Almost any other protein I use comes out bland, even with my aforementioned spice-doubling.

Everything else is super simple to come by and easy to prepare. Comes out amazing.
posted by supercres at 4:28 PM on August 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Comfort foods like sopa Azteca (aka tortilla soup) and chilaquiles are very easy to make. For sopa Azteca it helps to have a blender. A great Guatemalan snack to make is rellenitos de plátano.

Here's a sopa Azteca recipe I love:

• 3 medium dried chiles pasillas (aka chile negro, aka chilaca)
• 16oz. or 450g tomatoes, diced (a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes works great)
• 2 tablespoons oil
• 1 white onion
• 3 medium garlic cloves
• 2 quarts or 2 liters chicken broth
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2-3 cups cooked and shredded chicken, without skin (take from a store-bought rotisserie chicken to save time)
• 1 avocado
• chunk of queso panela (or any mild-flavored cheese like queso Chihuahua, Monterey jack, etc.)
• bag of lightly-salted tortilla chips (or fry-up some corn tortilla strips!)
• sour cream for garnish (Mexican crema is best)
• 1 lime for garnish
• 1 handful fresh epazote or a sprig of cilantro (optional)

Slice open each chile lengthwise so you can lay it flat and remove and discard the stem and seeds. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, toast each chile for about 15 seconds per side, using a spatula or something to press it down so it makes good contact with the hot surface. Put the toasted chiles and the diced tomatoes in a blender (but don’t blend yet!). Slice the onion into rings about ¼-inch (6-7mm) thick and thinly slice the garlic (you’ll be putting these in the blender eventually, so thickness only matters for ease of sautéing). In the saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion in oil, stirring frequently, until it starts to soften, and then add the garlic. Continue stirring until everything is soft and golden, for a total of around 8 minutes cooking time.

Remove the saucepan from heat. While leaving as much of the oil in the saucepan as you can, scoop out the onion and garlic and put them in the blender. Pressing them against the side of the pan as you scoop helps squeeze out the oil. Blend the chiles, tomatoes, onion, and garlic until smooth, around 15-20 seconds. Return the saucepan (still containing the oil) to medium-high heat. Pour in the blended ingredients, stirring constantly until thickened, about 5-6 minutes. Add the broth and the optional epazote or cilantro and lower the heat to simmer for about 15 minutes. Add salt to taste.

While the soup simmers, you can prepare the bowls for serving: cut up the avocado into small cubes and divide amongst the bowls. Dice the queso panela into small cubes (or shred whatever other mild cheese you have) and put a small handful into each bowl as well. Finally, add a handful of tortilla chips to each bowl (you can break the chips up a bit). Cut the lime into wedges and set aside for everyone to use. Add the shredded chicken to the soup and continue simmering a few more minutes, until the chicken has reached soup-temperature. Serve the soup by ladling into each bowl, pouring it atop the avocado, cheese, and tortilla chips. Garnish with sour cream and a squeeze of lime to taste.

This recipe makes about 6 servings, so if it’s just the two of you there’ll be leftover soup that can be refrigerated.
posted by theory at 5:02 PM on August 5, 2020 [6 favorites]

ShooBoo beat me to recommend making tortillas. Corn tortillas are even easier to make than the flour tortillas they linked. A tortillas press is helpful but not necessary.
posted by JackBurden at 5:27 PM on August 5, 2020

It doesn't get much easier than pibil. Blend the marinade ingredients, throw the pork in a very low oven, wait a few hours, serve to gasps of awe. Can't overcook it, don't need to watch it, doesn't matter if people are late. You don't need the banana leaves - baking paper then layers of foil is fine.
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 5:44 PM on August 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I second the fideo recommendation. BF is Mexican, introduced me to it, and it is on regular rotation in the household because of its absolute unscrewuppable ease and addictive quality. It works with any protein as far as we are concerned.
Chopped cilantro will make it fancy.
Toasted tortillas for the chunks of meat will make it really fancy. We do ours over the flame on the gas stove.
posted by oflinkey at 6:10 PM on August 5, 2020

Do you have an instant pot? I made carne guisada tonight for the first time and it was amazing. That just translates to “meat stew” so you know what you’re in for. We made it with tacos, but over rice would’ve been amazing. It can be made in a slow cooker too.

I used this recipe.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:34 PM on August 5, 2020

Lately I've been enjoying Baked Chile Rellenos. They're not traditional Tex-Mex in that they're not breaded and fried. They are delicious though. I top them with a homemade red chile sauce made from dried chiles, there's a zillion recipes but something like this.
posted by Nelson at 8:12 AM on August 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

My partner and I are huge Mexican cuisine fans and have quite travelled a bit in Mexico and cook lots of different things and we were both impressed by how true to what we ate in Mexico this recipe for Enchiladas Divorciadas was while being really easy to do. It seems like a lot of steps because you poach a whole chicken and make both of the sauces but you will feel like a magician because they come together so easily.
posted by urbanlenny at 11:27 AM on August 6, 2020

The tuna tostadas at Contramar in Mexico City are a perfect appetizer and super easy. Buy some sashimi grade tuna, avocados, leeks, chipotles in adobo, mayonnaise, limes, oranges, soy sauce, and tostadas (you probably already have some of these things). Stick the tuna in the freezer just to firm up, make chipotle mayo, fry the leeks (you can do it in the microwave), then slice the tuna really thin and marinate it in soy+orange juice+lime juice for 2 mins. Spread some chipotle mayo on each tostada, top with the tuna, then the leeks and an avocado slice.

Two recipes with more details on quantities and instructions:
- a more involved recipe from Contramar's Gabriela Camara herself (involves making mayo from scratch, frying tortillas to make tostadas, etc)
- an easier version from Rick Bayless that uses store-bought mayo, microwaved leeks, etc

If you have a pressure cooker, Kenji's pork chile verde would be a nice follow up.
posted by AceRock at 1:46 PM on August 6, 2020

Response by poster: Thank you for all the incredible suggestions! I’m starving now. I have a lot on my plate at the moment (heh) but I plan to make some delicious food as soon as possible. THANK YOU!
posted by sucre at 2:58 PM on August 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

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